Badjoe Indians…crazy birth and homesickness

Last night Joyce, Julia and I were invited over for dinner at Mordecai and Toinette’s house for dinner.  They moved to Davao City many years ago from South Africa to do mission work.  They are still supported by their home church there.

            Mordecai was an architech draftsman and Toinette was a school teacher.  Soon after coming here, Mordecai was trained as a missionary medical person and Toinette became a midwife.  They felt called to the mission field and were led here to Davao City to work among the Badjoe Indians. The Badjoe Indians are the lowest tribe here, being boat people.  Yes, they live their entire lives in boats or basket houses held way up in the air on stilts.  They are very poor and are a unique group of people of about 300 families.  They come to shore to shop and to sell pearls.  They are not really very honest (although there surely are some that are).  They claim to have found the pearls in the sea and strung them, but in reality, they go to the mall, buy a string and then sell them at absorbent prices.  We had some at the door of the clinic today.  The mall sells pearls for 300 peso for very good quality.  They try to sell them at 1,000.  Many foreigners will buy them just to say they bought pearls from the Sea Gypsies.

            They have been very closed to all medical help or Christian teaching until Mordecai became their friend.   Birth for them is something to be feared.  They are very concerned about the mother bleeding to death.  After the baby is born, they leave it off to the side and try to keep the mom from bleeding too much.  The floor is made of reeds with cracks and the blood is pushed down into the water.  It is hard to know how much a mom lost that way!  Anyway, the birth process is quite amazing.  The birth mom is covered head to toe with blankets.  The birth granny goes under the blankets to help with the birth.  The mother of the birth mom actually bites her daughter’s ears and pulls her hair, while she is trying to push, in an effort to get her to get all riled up to push harder.  They had invited Toinette (midwife)  to the birth in case the mom bled too much, maybe she could help. After the fact???

            For dinner, as Mordecai and Toinette were telling us all about their ministry to the Badjoe Indians, they served us a real South African meal.  We had cornmeal mush, with a tomato, onion sauce with special spice and skewered BBQ pork.  It was really good.  She got out her precious American cups (like we would maybe treasure something from another country) and made African roobios tea and served a box lemon cake she had made.  It was very touching to be a part of their lives for the evening.  They have a son with autism and we talked about curriculm and speech / language therapy for quite a while. 

            Today in the clinic, I assisted with 2 births that were very nice.  I also did speculum, vag exams on woman who had STD’s and infections of different sorts.  Some of the women were very young (14, 15) and had pretty bad infections from their sex partners.  So many of them did not even know how many other woman their current partner had been with.  Several of the girls were very nervous and I spent most of the time trying to get them to open their legs willingly.  I need both hands for the exam…

Thankfully they had a lamp I strapped onto my head and that freed up my hands some what.  I cannot imagine what these girls are going through in life.  And now they are pregnant.

            It is now 12 days until I am home.  I am truly homesick.  On my days off, it is the worst, as I have time to think too much about what I am missing at home.  My family has been faithfully writing me and that helps a whole lot.  I spend a lot of my time on the computer conversing with Tom, writing my Xanga blog, studying for ATM test when I get back and writing the kids and friends.  I am also thankful for the diversion of my CD player with hymns and songs I enjoy.  My computer doubles as a private movie theater as I can get lost for an hour or two watching Mother Theresa, the Christy series and some other sweet movies the kids thought I should take.

            I am so thankful that I made it through this weekend.  I slept and slept. Tears of homesickness and frustration (I am sure Tom was worried) shed and past, I think we’re through the worst of it.  But now I am now going into a tough week as far as my schedule and am going to need every ounce of strength I have left to make it.  Exhausted physically and mentally, my brain is on overload from all the details of what I have learned.  Oh, I hope I can remember it all when I need it! 

As far as coming home,  I so much want to get off the plane looking like a beautiful wife and mommy, coming home at last, joyful and ready for action, but instead I’m afraid I am going to look like something the cat drug in from the woods…. Yikes. 

            Joyce left today to come home.  Julia leaves Thursday, Lisa and Beth leave on the next Monday and then I leave on the 13th.  The 12 new students all arrive this Friday.  Jordan Geyman (Dr. Troy Geyman’s daughter) arrives on Friday and it will be good to see her.  We are sharing a room for the time I am here.

            I went shopping today for the rest of the gifts I am bringing home and some things for Sue Struble, a midwife that was here when I first came.  She wished so badly that she had gotten pearls for all of her daughters and it was a whole lot more cheaper for me to get  them for her, than for her to come back and get them!

            Today, it was dusk by the time I was making my way home from the mall, about 1 mile away.  I used a peddle cab driver, as the roads were packed with taxi’s and cars.  Joyce was about to leave for the airport and I really needed to get home quickly to say goodbye. He was about 15.  He was very nice (too nice) and sang American love songs to me all the way (way off key).  When I got home, and after I paid him, he hung around the gate, still singing, peering in the gate and saying that he was in love with me!!??!!  ‘crazy kid!   I think he wanted money.   Carmen went and told him to go away and that I was the mother of 11 children (or something to that effect) anyway he left….   Now I am a little nervous about going out in the dark to the clinic, but thankfully the clinic guard is right near and within ear shot.

            My shift starts at 6:00 am tomorrow.  I was late to work this morning due to a misunderstanding about where I was supposed to be.  Ate’ Susan had asked me to do the exams today last Friday and my schedule says that I was on day shift for clinic also.  Assuming that Ate’ Susan took my name off clinic and put it on for the exams at 8:00, I took my time getting up and eating breakfast.  As I was talking to Tom on the phone, Carmen came up the stairs getting off night shift and she whispered… “Where were you? You are on this morning!?”  I honestly did not know that I was supposed to be two places at once, but I was… oooops…

            Please pray for the baby born yesterday, with an Apgar of 2.  It was the worse case of shoulder dystocia that the clinic had ever seen here.  It was actually my client I had worked with all night, with a very slow labor. I went home in exhaustion a couple hours before birth.  She finally got the head out and there it stuck.  They tried about everything.  They cut in several different directional episiotomies, they were trying all the tricks and still this baby was very stuck.  5 mintues later, the baby finally was worked out.  Jonna was standing on the bed, doing supra pubic pressure and actually broke the bed with her force down.  (In the middle of it all!) The birth mom had her knees up around her ears pushing and pushing.  It turns out that the baby had his hands locked behind his back and they could not bring them forward without breaking them.  There was blood, amniotic fluid and stuff everywhere.  About 2 mintues into this thing, one of the girls rang the emergency bell that sounds upstairs where all the senior midwives stay.  It rang quick once and they thought…  it was just an accident.  Then the girl hauled on it and then they jumped up (many were not quite dressed yet and dressing flying down the stairs.  Aute’ Susan was trying to put the wrong garment on her head…)  they arrived and worked and worked, finally getting the rest of the body out.

            The baby lay there limp and white, not breathing.  The heart was beating, though, so we did eventually get the baby to breathe with much resuscitation.  The baby didn’t really pink up. We transported the baby immediately as the baby was breathing in little gasps, little gasps, pulling in his chest so hard in an effort to get oxygen and really struggling.  The mom seems fairly uncomprehending about the whole thing, or else she doesn’t care.  She is still smiling and she went home this afternoon, her baby still in the hospital.

            Amidst the poverty and differences, I see a real sense of pride and modesty that is lacking in America.  To be covered during birth is very important. In spite of huge poverty…they very much want to repay kindness with kindness and just a tiny gesture and word of encouragement goes a huge mile.  I just love to compliment the moms if they are doing a good job.  They just beam with happiness and work even harder.  Most moms do not have diapers and so I bought a big pack of Pampers to give each of them a few out of, so they can go home in style.

            Little Peanut came in today with his mommy and he looks great.  (He was my baby that was just under 4 lbs a few days ago.)  Friday he came in and his temp was 102.00  I was horrified and ran to get Aute Anna, my supervisor on shift.  She looked at the baby awhile and said, “I think that he is just hot from being outside.  Unwrap him and cool him off.”

  I did and sponged him off as well and sure enough he cooled right down.  I guess a little one that small does not regulate their temperature on their own very well… Feeling a little foolish, I guess I will remember that lesson now.  It was a scorcher outside and I had scheduled them for 3:00 pm to travel in the hot sun. I made their future appointment for 5:00 pm.


One thought on “Badjoe Indians…crazy birth and homesickness

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *